You know the nightmare: you’re running down the hall of your high school, books and papers flying, your heart in your throat because you’re late for that final exam on the last day before graduation. You wake up in a cold sweat, blood pressure skyrocketing, only to realize, it’s no dream, it’s your life as a chronically late employee — and you could just be hurting your career with your constant tardiness.
(Photo credit: Evan/Flickr)
Being late may seem like a small thing — after all, we’ve all been late at some point in time (we’re not robots!) but for someone who’s always late, the message you’re sending to your co-workers and your boss is that you plain don’t care. Showing up late for that morning meeting, or every meeting in some cases, shows that you can’t handle this whole adult thing too well. If you can’t keep yourself organized and on time, you just might also be late to that promotion. Think about it: who’s going to get the big account — the gal who shows up poised and ready to rock the annual sales rodeo, or the guy who bursts in like that high school nightmare? Right.
So, you’re asking, “I’ve spent years on the tardy side of life. How can I teach this old dog new tricks?” The answers are so easy, you’ll be surprised.
1. The Old “Set a Clock Forward” Trick
Yep, this works! Set your computer clock/watch/car radio five or 10 minutes ahead. Even though you’ll “know” it’s fast, you’ll still start to trick your body into your new “work time.”
Need to remember to gather up your things the night before so you’re not racing out the door? Set a calendar reminder for every night before bedtime to pack your lunch or set out your clothes so you’re not scrambling. Or use your favorite activity tracker (FitBit offers this option) for regular reminders to “get meeting materials together” a good half hour before you need them.
3. Take Some Things off Your Plate
Can’t seem to keep yourself from being overbooked in your quest to leave the house? Ask for help! If it’s your job to chase the cat around in the morning and give it a pill, ask a friend/spouse/moderately responsible kid to help you out. You’ll get back a precious 15 minutes (or an hour) of your morning, and they’ll get the satisfaction of getting that darn cat to take its heart medication every day.
Same goes at the office. If you’re swamped, ask for a life preserver. Your team wants you to be on time, too. Everybody’s pulling together, and nobody should be left behind.
4. Outwit Traffic
If you’re always stuck in that same morning rush hour crush, try experimenting with a new route or new departure time. You’ll be amazed what a difference 10 or 15 minutes can make on the highways (sometimes leaving later can actually help you avoid the crush).
Check Google Maps with the traffic layer (not while you’re actually driving, of course) and look for the red, orange and green zones and pick a new path. If you’re not in the habit of catching the traffic report, try tuning your clock radio to the station with a great newscast and wake up with a new morning crew. If you pay the bulletins on the latest traffic slow zones some attention, you’ll avoid that overturned truck of ham on I-85.
It’s easy to get in the habit of being on time. You just have to show you care about your job and your co-workers’ time. Become a more valued employee by showing everyone just how much you value their time and effort, and you’ll be rewarded in kind.
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